US law: Seamen cannot recover punitive damages

People - claims

Published: 3 October 2014

The development

Correspondent lawyers Phelps Dunbar have reported on a significant US legal decision with respect to the position of Jones Act seamen and personal injury claims.

Particularly it has been held that Jones Act seamen cannot recover punitive damages for their vessel owner / employer's breach of its general maritime law duty to provide a seaworthy vessel.

This decision has a very high significance to vessel and drill rig operators in the United States.

Further details can be found in the very helpful attached case note from Phelps Dunbar.

Loss prevention advice

Members, whether US operators under the Jones Act or simply trading to / from US ports (including dependent territories) will be well aware of the fact that it is a very expensive jurisdiction for legal claims, particularly for illness, personal injury and fatality matters.

The Association would therefore strongly recommend that members always make immediate contact whenever a personal accident or illness issue occurs, in particular Skuld's New York office can assist in the North American time zone on a 24/7 basis.

Experience has shown that prompt attendance and assistance by the Association can significantly assist members in dealing with a situation and to help mitigate the liabilities that may follow.

The Association is grateful to Messrs. Phelps Dunbar for their case note of 26 September 2014, republished here.